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Okay, I know this sounds weird, but hear me out please.

Assume the following: I've got a 4k screen here, maybe another one in the near future. I like to watch videos while doing boring stuff. This is not a problem when using speakers, but when using headphones, I just get too distracted and lose too much time. I assume this is because of the more in-depth experience surround head-phones like mine give you.

The story: Once somebody tripped on my headphone plugs and it was pulled out a bit. This lead to half of the signal not being transmitted anymore (I was only getting sound on the right ear). I didn't notice it was because of the cable, so I just went on to work. I found that I could focus much better when I didn't get the usual intense experience from the sound of the video. Of course I found out that my headphones weren't actually broken, but I tested some things on how to make this work better. Turning down the volume didn't work at all, it's still distracting and only having sound on one ear is annoying as hell. Which leads me to my idea.

The idea: Now the big monitor is relevant. What if one had an application which sort of emulates a 3D virtual sound environment that uses the position of the sound source on the screen as the position on a sphere around you in the virtual 3D sound space. Then you could hear selectively much better and associate sound sources to their (video) content much quicker.

I know this works because I've seen a similar thing in a recording studio I've been to, the controller of nine studios was listening to all broadcasts at once on his screen. He had a 7.1 speaker system which emulated the position of the virtual sound corresponding to the position of the broadcasts on screen he was checking on.

The question: Apart from writing an application that does this, is there a way to achieve a similar behavior?

tl;dr I want to hear the sound of an application from the direction I'm also seeing it at on my rather large screen.


I'm currently on Arch Linux, but please don't hesitate to give suggestions for other Distros if there are any that don't work on Arch for some weird reason.

Please not this is not about whether or not to watch videos while working, let that be my concern ;)

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  • PulseAudio has a module-position-event-sounds, but I think that'll only do beeps and whatnot, not application sound output.
    – derobert
    Feb 23 '16 at 17:05
  • @derobert I've been reading up on that, I think you're right. I'm not too experienced with the pulseaudio stuff though, so I might overlook something
    – Yorrd
    Feb 23 '16 at 19:07

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